I am Not an Expert on You

As a member of the behavioral health profession, there are many times when people come into my office so that I can impart knowledge/wisdom to them and they can go forth and be better.  And then they get the bad, although accurate news, I am not an expert on you.  I cannot know everything about you and I cannot decide FOR your what is best.

I find myself frequently reminding people that they are the expert on themselves.  They know themselves far better than I do, even if they need to know themselves better.  I cannot tell you (the client) what will make you happy, what your problem is, or how to fix it.  I can get information from you and I can use that to form some ways to help you help yourself.

Counselors can provide objectivity and a fresh perspective that we cannot give ourselves because, let’s face it, no one is totally objective about their own stuff!  I know I’m not!  When I had some deaths in my family, I sought out help from a friend who is also a psychologist.  I had no perspective for a long time and that alone helped me to cope.  With our clients, they too have limited perspective because they are too close to the situation and part of our job is to provide some perspective.

Counselors can give people tools to use, but we cannot use them for the clients.  And when it comes to choosing tools, the client needs to guide us because they know what they will, and equally importantly, won’t use!  We cannot decide for them what they will benefit from.  We need them to be willing, and honest, participants in this process.

If you have had any experiences like this, please share them so we can learn from each other!  Namaste!

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